Synaptic pruning is a natural process that occurs in the brain during development, where weak or unnecessary connections between neurons (brain cells) are eliminated, while stronger connections are strengthened.
During early childhood, the brain produces more connections between neurons than it needs, and over time, unused or weak connections are eliminated through a process called synaptic pruning. This process is important for optimizing brain function by increasing the efficiency of neural pathways and reducing unnecessary neural connections.
Synaptic pruning is primarily driven by a type of brain cell called microglia, which helps to identify and eliminate weak or unnecessary synapses, thereby sculpting the brain’s neural circuitry to improve its processing power and efficiency. The process of synaptic pruning is thought to continue throughout life, although the extent of pruning decreases with age.